Canadian firms dominate phosphate imports from Western Sahara: report – by Peter Koven (Financial Post – April 8, 2016)

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Two Canadian fertilizer firms have become the dominant buyers of phosphate rock from the disputed territory of Western Sahara after other companies stopped the practice, according to a report.

The study, released Friday by Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW), found that Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. shipped a combined 916,000 tonnes of phosphate from the territory last year. That accounted for 64.5 per cent of all purchases from Western Sahara in 2015. Potash Corp. shipped 474,000 tonnes and Agrium shipped 442,000, the report said.

“Agrium and Potash Corp. are by far the biggest importers,” Erik Hagen, a WSRW board member, said in an interview. These shipments are controversial because of Western Sahara’s unique status. It is the last remaining colony in Africa, but is under the de facto control of Morocco, which claimed sovereignty over the area after Spain withdrew in 1975.

Western Sahara’s Phosboucraa mine, which is the source of the phosphate exports, is managed by Morocco’s national phosphate company and is Morocco’s biggest source of income from the disputed territory.

Hagen said the people of Western Sahara should have the authority to decide what to do with the phosphate, rather than a neighbouring government. His organization believes the mine is being “illegally exploited” by Morocco and thinks foreign companies should stop purchasing phosphate from it.

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